Can We Distinguish Guilt-Proneness and Shame-Proneness?: Therapeutic Suggestions

Inan E., Gencoz F.

AYNA Klinik Psikoloji Dergisi, vol.10, no.3, pp.562-588, 2023 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.31682/ayna.1337616
  • Journal Name: AYNA Klinik Psikoloji Dergisi
  • Journal Indexes: TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.562-588
  • Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University Affiliated: Yes


The aim of the current study was to distinguish the reactions and expectations of individuals on the basis of their guilt- and shame-proneness. For this purpose, two vignettes and related questions were presented to the 348 participants. Participants were assigned into four groups according to their guilt shame scores (i.e., high shame-low guilt, high guilt-low shame, high guilt-high shame, low guilt-low shame). The obtained inquiry was analyzed qualitatively with Thematic Analysis. Accordingly, the emotional and behavioral reaction profiles of each group and an overview of their expectations from others were obtained. Results showed that there are some specific features of each group that can be observed during interactions. Based on the findings, some tips were provided to the therapists to identify the groups of individuals easily and suggestions were given based on participants’ expectations to develop a better rapport with the clients. Although existing research generally has focused on the negative effects of shame on guilt; the results of the present study provided evidence that guilt might also have a positive effect on shame. Accordingly, the combination of high guilt and high shame may not be counterproductive, and these findings may lead to new insights into the studies in the field.